Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Frost Comes On Little Cat Feet

My apologies to Carl Sandburg, but fog and frost can play tag with each other this time of year. I'd rather have fog. After several weeks of gorgeous spring weather, some of it even summer-like, now we're under a freeze warning for tonight. Just tonight. After that, we're supposed to be safe.

Last year, we got zapped with a late spring freeze that robbed us of many of the flowering shrubs' and trees' beautiful blossoms and in the case of the peach tree, we had its fruit taken from us, too. We said, "Oh well, there's always next year."

Flowering Crabapple

Now it's next year and while it's later in the spring and we've had such a pretty show of pink and white and magenta from all the flowering trees, there won't be any peaches this year either if we don't cover the tree. Its blooms are just now getting ready to open. The tree isn't large, so covering it with a sheet will protect it.

Flowering Crabapple (Malus 'Prairiefire')

Our new cut-leaf lilac (Syringa lanciniata) we got last year hasn't shown us its blooms yet and I can see they're started, so that will get covered as well. I'm anxious to see what it looks like, adorned in its lavender finery.

I don't have many annuals out yet, since our last average frost date is later in May, and the ones that are, are in containers, so those will spend the night in the garage. The noon news said the temperatures won't be low enough long enough to do much damage to the bulbs, so we'll take our chances with those. Almost all the hyacinths are finished blooming anyway, but we've got tulips and daffodils still going strong.

Bluestone Perennials "Pretty in Pink" collection, planted in October 2005.

The 'Sahohime' Japanese Tree Peony (Paeonia suffruticosa) promises to be a real show-stopper this spring. I counted 23 flower buds on it! They're not small flowers either, when they bloom. The peony itself isn't tall nor big around, so if all those flowers are in bloom at the same time, it will be a sight to behold. I'll take lots of photos of it and share them with you. It's wrapped in a garbage bag to protect it from the frost.

Our only azalea, planted last spring, has been slow to break dormancy, but it's now greening up and has flower buds on it. It too is covered for the night.

This past winter wasn't kind to some of our things. We've lost one Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus), in the middle of a row of four, so that will be replaced. The Sunset Foxglove (Digitalis obscura) didn't make it, nor did the Coreopsis 'Autumn Blush'. I knew that was an iffy one, but it was pretty healthy and I mulched it well.

The Cape Fuschia that I bought when plant shopping at Petitti's with Kim didn't make it either, but that's not a huge surprise, even though the employee we talked to thought it would be hardy for me. The Astrantia 'Hadspen Blood' that I also bought then didn't make it either, but the one I'd bought earlier in the spring last year did, and is actually growing amazingly fast.

What has really surprised me are two of the Echinaceas. 'Orange Meadowbrite', which I've had for a couple of years, and has always been vigorous and lovely, shows no signs of emerging from the ground. 'Harvest Moon,' which I've bought twice now, is an empty spot in the garden, too. Both of those are two of my favorite Echinaceas. *sniff*

And then there is the mystery of my Hardy Ground Orchid (Spiranthes cernua), a.k.a. Nodding Ladies Tresses. It had started to green up, as I showed in this post. But just a few days later, it was missing. The entire plant - roots and all - were gone! I still don't know what happened to it. I'm sure it was a critter of some sort, maybe a rabbit. I'd like to find another one to replace it, because I really liked that orchid, with its spiral of blooms.

I planted two Gaura lindheimeri last year and they performed beyond my wildest expectations. One plant would have been plenty for the spot. I had to keep cutting it back to keep it under control. That, of course, just made it bloom all the more and it was in a constant mass of blooms. It's supposed to be hardy here, and we even have a native Gaura at the edge of the field by our house, but for some reason, neither one of ours is alive now. I'll buy it again, though, and treat it as an annual I guess, because it really was airy and pretty all summer long.

The variegated Brunnera I bought last year didn't weather the winter, nor did Heuchera 'Marmalade', which I'd had for a couple of years. I lost four out of five lavenders, and I won't buy that anymore, because it really is too fussy for my garden.

As you can see, gardening is a "live and learn" kind of thing and there's a lot of it that isn't according to the book. If you've gardened very long at all, you know that just because the plant tag says it's hardy to zone 5, that doesn't mean it will survive in your garden. There are so many factors involved - soil, wind, precipitation, temperature extremes, etc.

If it's a plant that really should grow and thrive without much problem, or if it's something I really love, I'll try it again if it dies. But there are so many great plants out there that I can't afford to keep spending money on and experiencing disappointment with dying plants. It's actually probably a good thing that I can't grow everything in my garden, because I'd probably try.

As I write this at 11:00 p.m., the thermometer reads 34°. I was just outside, covering the other small NOID red tree peony that I'd forgotten to cover earlier, and it's chilly. The clouds have cleared away and the stars are shining brightly. The wind has died down, so the stage is set for that freeze to creep in. I hope I haven't forgotten to cover something...


Lisa at Greenbow said...

It might be a little early to give up on some of your things coming up Kylee. I hope you are pleasantly surprised. Some of those newer varieties of Huchera are a bit fussy I think. I had tried lime rickey twice and then treated it as an annual and threw it on the compost pile last fall and it lived. Crazy. You just never know about plants.

Entangled said...

I hope the morning light showed not much damage. These spring freezes are so discouraging.

I still haven't seen any shoots from the passionflower vine. I'm absolutely sure it will be back, and on its way to you as soon as I find some new growth.

Karen said...

My azalea is slow to emerge this year too. Last year's late frost stunted it and many other shrubs of mine. Fortunately everything is doing well this year except the azalea :(

I hope your echinaceas emerge for you. Maybe they are a little slow this year, some of mine are slowly emerging some have emerged pretty fast, and some are still showing no signs from the ground.

Muum said...

Your pictures are yummy and wonderful! Sorry you lost your hardy orchid. I have gaura in my garden, and am a zone 5, but I think they reseed better than they come back. Mine are fairly 'spready' - maybe you will have some volunteers? We are s'posed to get snow today :(
And my studded tires are off of the car. bother.

Daisy Dove said...

Gardening IS like life: live and learn and expect surprises and disappointments. :) I hope your frost wasn't too heavy.

Daisy Dove said...

Gardening IS like life: live and learn and expect surprises and disappointments. :) I hope your frost wasn't too heavy.

beckie said...

Kylee, I agree about waiting a little longer for the echinaceas. The newer ones seem slower to emerge. I saw the green ones, yesterday, and was not impressed. If you find another orchid, put a cage around it! :> We missed the frost, but that was because I covered, I'm sure.

dave1949 said...

Kylee really like your flower pictures and narrative.

As you know I live close to 8000 feet above sea level and in our little valley, we are Zoned from a 6B to a 3.

With the 253 inches of snow we have had since October, and more predicted tonight and tomorrow.Our low is suppose to get to 14 degrees.

With no snow insulation now and only a few inches of snow coming along with the cold temps, I am going to have some confused flowers.

They non hardy glads and snapdragons survived and really took a jump since we have had 3 days of above 60 degrees. The oriental lilies are about 3 inches tall. The cone flowers range from just appearing to 4 inches tall. All these have been covered for the next couple of days.

On the bleak side, 13 bearded Iris were set back cause of the redwood mulch(store bought) molded. The Clematis did not make it.

After these next 2 days of cold cold weather, I do not think I will be too excited to look under all the covering and extra mulch added today.

Aiyana said...

Gorgeous photos. The flowering crabapple is especially nice.

Anonymous said...

It is always a surprise in the spring isn't it? I wonder what made off with your plant? That is always so disappointing. Any footprints around it? It is 27 F here this morning! Brrrr

Rose said...

Kylee, I do hope the freeze didn't hit you after all. We had freeze warnings, too, but thankfully it didn't get quite as cold as predicted.
I've lost track of the number of plants over the years that didn't survive for me. I'll try a perennial twice, but after that, if it doesn't survive, it doesn't get bought! Love your echinacea (one of my favorites); maybe they will surprise you.

Unknown said...

I'm way, WAAAYYYY behind in my blog reading, Kylee, so I'm going to spend some time reading yours. Your garden is now several weeks ahead of mine for sure, though my blue poppies are up and an inch tall. None of my echinaceas are awake yet, but my nursery buddy had his overwinter in pots no problem. Only my sister has 'Autumn Blush', and her garden isn't waking up yet but I'll ask her about it in a week or two. A friend in Greenwood had his Cape Fuschia overwinter, as did mine in the outdoor unheated greenhouse. Gaura is only an annual here, too, unless people have real good drainage. I tried it several times and it didn't work out in three different locations, so I just ignore it now.

Anonymous said...

I am grateful that we didn't get the freeze. Your tree peony is beautiful, I got a new one this year that is supposed to have a blue bloom, we'll see. I hate to see you give up on lavender, maybe you could try 'lavender lady', and grow it as an annual.

Unknown said...

I'm surprised that your astrantia didn't make it! You got yours planted well before mine--I actually tossed it in the ground somewhere in November, I think, to overwinter. And mine came back. Weird.

Too bad about that cape fucshia. It was such a pretty plant. Was that the one that he was trying for the first time, or the one he told us a coworker had overwintered once? I can't remember. It seems so long ago!

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